BOSTON -- There are many signs Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is brimming with confidence early in his third NHL season.
Hamilton matched a career high with a three-point game in the Bruins road victory Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first game since defenseman Zdeno Chara left the lineup with a knee injury. Two days later, the 21-year-old Hamilton was bold enough to wear a dress and pose as Elsa from "Frozen" during the Bruins annual reverse trick-or-treating event at Boston Children's Hospital.
As the Bruins continue life without Chara against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at TD Garden, Hamilton will continue to be a focal point of the Bruins defense corps.
"Yeah, I think it's more comfortable obviously everywhere," Hamilton said after the morning skate. "I think around this city, around the team, in the room and then on the ice as well, I think that as you get older and better the game slows down a bit. So I think I felt that a little bit. So just trying to play with confidence and try to make plays and keep playing hard."
Hamilton's goal against the Maple Leafs, his second of the season, was a perfect illustration of his expanded understanding of how the Bruins want him and the rest of the defensemen to play. Hamilton supported the Bruins attack and then split the Toronto defense before firing a wrist shot into the back of the net.
"Well, I'm getting accustomed to it," coach Claude Julien said about Hamilton's burst of speed through the neutral zone. "We've asked our Ds to support the attack. And in re-watching the game, watching a video clip, he was taking off to support the attack and then we kind of bobbled the puck a little bit, he just sort of slowed down and cut back to the middle and the puck came loose and he just pounced on it. To me, that's just a great read-and-reaction kind of situation. I thought that was a great play on his part.
"He's a player right now. I talk about confidence, even defensively, he's a lot more physical and he's standing up to people a lot better than he used to in the past. I guess I put that in the confidence category as well."
The Wild, who arrived in Boston late Monday after losing 5-4 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, did not hold a morning skate. Coach Mike Yeo is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. ET. The Wild will be trying to turn the page after losing a 3-0 third-period lead.
Julien knows Minnesota will be a dangerous opponent coming off a dramatic defeat.
"They played a hard game last night," Julien said. "You can either look at the first two periods and see a team who only gave up eight shots and who was very dominant. And I know they had some power plays, but very dominant and very hard to play to against. And for whatever reason [they] just kind of seemed to lose that pace in the third and it cost [them] a game. But we know just from watching them and even playing against them last year how tough a team they are to play against."
Here are the projected lineups:
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter – Kyle Brodziak – Justin Fontaine
Matt Cooke – Ryan Carter – Jason Zucker
Ryan Suter – Justin Falk
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba
Injured: Keith Ballard (illness), Christian Folin (illness), Jonas Brodin (soreness), Erik Haula (upper body)
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Simon Gagne
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Matt Bartkowski – Zach Trotman
Scratched: Matt Fraser
Injured: Kevan Miller (shoulder), Zdeno Chara (knee)
Status update: Haula was injured in the second period on Monday and did not return to the game. His status will be unknown until Yeo's update. Brodin and Parise were also banged up against the Rangers, but each returned to the game.
Who's hot: Zucker has three goals in his past two games for the Wild. Pominville has two goals and two assists in the past three games. Vanek has 62 points in 55 career regular-season games against the Bruins. … Krejci has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. Campbell has a goal in two of the past three games.